Notes from ningyo editions studio and gallery

A Brief Interview for “I Wouldn’t Worry About It” at Laconia Gallery


A.  I want the work to serve as a mirror to everybody’s inner conflicts and demons.  Al art is in the end subjective.  Just because one person deals with anxiety and depression does not mean that the sharing of these ordeals through their art cannot, hopefully, bring comfort to those dealing with a different set of ordeals, be they other mood disorders or the general existential ennui that life dishes out on a regular basis.


A. Of course the work is personal – deeply – but the quotations (both my own and those culled from songs, literature and other sources) are not meant to be so cryptic/personal so as to exclude the viewer.  On the contrary, they are meant to draw the viewer in with their mystery.  Taken out of context and paraphrased (or butchered completely), pop song lyrics take on new, sometimes ominous meanings, and I wanted to exploit that.  The same can be said for scraps taken from literature or overheard conversations).  In the case where the writing is my own, I readily admit that I am a terrible poet, but that in these rather clunky rhymes a struggle comes through which I hope does something to convey the difficulty inherent in creating these works.


A.  I’d rather not answer that, and not because it is too personal or any big secret, but because I don’t want the viewer’s perception of the work to be altered with such knowledge.  A large case has been provided within the exhibition containing several personal artifacts from which an even mildly astute viewer can draw reasonably accurate conclusions.  This has to be enough.  There is such a thing as over-explaining, and then what is the point of showing the work at all?  It would then be a case of simply so much whining.


A. Abraham Lincoln is (obviously) a fascinating figure in many respects, least of all to me was his ability to live with severe depression (or melancholy, as it was called in his day), and still carry out achievements based on his beliefs and convictions – achievements that changed the course of history.  In many respects it is a wonder he made it through his twenties at all as he was so depressed that at times he was put on suicide watch, with all sharp objects removed from his house.  He was a multifaceted thinker, prone to changing his views as he gained information, which in today’s political forum would have found him dismissed as a great flip-flopper.  This stands as a testament to his honesty, both with himself and with his constituents.  He was not afraid to admit he was wrong and to change his mind if he thought it wise, and at times he was quite comfortable wearing his ambiguity on his sleeve.   In any case, the fact that he survived his troubled life with a sense of humor and endured a marriage fraught with a great deal of strife is a wonder for any human.  The fact that he accomplished what he did on top of all of this is just miraculous.


A. Without the asses and the panty-clad bottoms in various stages of disrobement, the work would come across as perhaps too serious, and too heavy.  I believe with the razors, pills, tears and other objects of pain or unnatural coping mechanisms, it is heavy enough.  But the bottoms are not there to add levity for its own sake.  The roles of love and lust play a great role in living with (and recovering from) a serious bought of depression, and help to keep the anxiety at bay, at least temporarily.


Well, the symbols can be broken down into three categories – pills, sharp objects and objectified, isolated female anatomy.  All of these serve as some type of emollient in one way or another: the pills are a double-edged sword of relief/comfort and potential harm and addiction; the sharp objects offer a morbid comfort as a means of self-harm during the worst of my moods; and the behinds offer a comfort in the form of carnal desire and amorous release.  In this respect I suppose they relate to each other in differing degrees of their roles as safety valves.  I do want to be clear that the knives and razors are never meant to seem directed at the female forms (as a few viewers have suggested).  The fact that they may appear alongside objects of potential harm does not equate them with harm in themselves, or with any wish to direct harm at them. I am aware of the act of objectifying the female form – isolating, fetishising and hyper-sexualizing a particular body part, and the slippery slope that introduces to many viewers.  However, I reject claims of  misogyny or lazy objectification as we are once again discussing a personal symbolism that conveys an ameliorating antidote to anxiety and despair.  This takes the form of abbreviated hieroglyphs.  Of course, as I stated at the beginning, the work is really a mirror to the viewer’s own anxieties and hang-ups, so I will not argue with anyone’s interpretation, no matter how far it may stray from my own intentions.


A.  The title for the show was chosen from a handful of possible titles that I proposed.  The first was Pro Re Nada (as in PRN, a medical term meaning “take as needed” or literally,” as required”).  Another was The Hour of Defeat, which is the name of one of the pieces in the show and part of the the first paragraph of a Hawthorn short story (and for the life of me I cannot remember which).  The former was rejected as it was too medical, speaking only to one aspect of the work.  The latter was rejected as too gloomy.  I suggested I Wouldn’t Worry About It as it seems to speak, albeit glibly, to the body of work as a whole and the concerns it seems to arouse in others, as well as to my own anxious nature.  It seems like a good mantra or catch-phrase for the anxiety prone, just as Philip Marlow (as portrayed by Eliot Gould in Robert Altman’s film version of The Long Goodbye) would frequently say “It’s okay with me.”  I took the phrase from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men.  The scene is played out verbatim in the film version as well:  When the villain, Anton Chigurh, comes to kill the wife of the protagonist , she says to him “…I had about seven thousand dollars all told and I can tell you it’s been long gone and they’s bills aplenty left to pay yet.  I buried my mother today.  I aint (sic) paid for that neither”, to which Chigurh says “I wouldn’t worry about it.”  The suggestion is that none of our earthly, day-to-day concerns matter at all in the face of death.


A.  I leave that entirely in the hands of the viewer.


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